Redesigning the Classroom One Lesson At a Time

What a great couple of weeks we have had in the new Stroth Learning and Sports Center.

We have been watching our new wing grow for that last 12 months. The ebb and flow of the construction project has been exciting to watch.  In one day alone they poured thousands of cubic meters of cement.  And we have had numerous tours at various stages of the project.

I will never forget walking into the new gym as they were putting on the giant wood beams to support the roof. The space was so massive, and so unlike what we had previously.

Since the hand over of the building, we teachers occupying the new space have been diligently unpacking, trying out our new toys, and finding ways to innovate in our space with our students.

Remember a couple of years ago when I wrote what my perfect classroom would look like?

A room with Hokki chairs of various colors. A room with tables that can be raised so students could stand at them, but tables that could roll and form larger work areas for groups work problem solving.   A room with a cart of iPads or MacBooks allowing my students to research, create videos, collaborate to create real world products.

 A room with a huge whiteboard with an interactive projection screen. And when you walked into my classroom day after day, the arrangement of students and desk would rarely be the same. At times their tables would be facing the wall, giving students a quiet less distracting space to complete an assignment. At times their tables would be pushed together in pods of 3 or 4 as they work together to solve a problem or work on a presentation. At times their desks would be in a theater setting as we discuss and use the board to discuss a topic.

 And you would see movement. Kids would be moving around. They would be active.   They would feel comfortable choosing the type of space that works for them.

 Well I got all that I wanted!  Now the pressure is on to innovate, change it up, and keep my students moving and learning.

My massive white board is awesome, but we are working with Idea Paint on getting a finish that will allow easier wipe off. I love the ability to document a unit of learning as we go. It is like building a temporary monument of accomplishment for each unit.

The seating arrangement changes each lesson depending on what we are doing. Desks roll, desktops flip for easy storage when not in use, and some raise and lower for standing work.  Even the Epson interactive whiteboard can roll to be placed anywhere in the room.

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Partner work:  Side by Side pairs working on skill building tasks.

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Input/Output:  Students get input of information from the front.  Then they move to stations to interact with the material on a deeper level and produce something.  Students move back and forth multiple times during the lesson.

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Writing and Production:  Students face all of their laptops in.  This allows me to see their screens.  It allows students to focus on their own work and not on other students.

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Problem Solving Group Work:  Students are working in groups of 4 to create a product that shows their understanding of the unit being studied.

What has been interesting is seeing how kids use the chairs. The Ongo stools, for some, help them concentrate during activities. For the older kids, they like the idea that they are working out their abs while we study history.

Some of my students cannot sit still, so having a fully rolling chair has been a struggle for them. They often look up and realize they have strayed far from their desk while I’m giving instructions. Or they discover that their desk has moved because they keep pushing or pulling it to get their seat back in place. After two weeks of this though, they are starting to get the hang of keeping their travels on wheels to a minimum.

Having a fully moveable classroom has allowed me to use my whole space.  My students or I can change the configuration of the classroom in seconds.  There is no big production of moving desks out of the way.  Having a wall to write on and document learning reminds me of the importance of visually showing students what we are studying.

Hmmm.  I wonder my room will looking like on Monday?

If you could have the perfect classroom, what would it look like?  How do you use your classroom space in innovative ways?

 

 

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